A new baby arrives in your house — a tiny, fragile creature demanding attention at all hours, needing your help to figure out this complicated business of eating and sleeping and living.

It’s enough to turn the most level-headed, composed, organized new mother into an anxious wreck. But when do normal postpartum nerves turn into the common but under-diagnosed illness of postpartum anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is not as well known as postpartum depression, but it is actually more common, affecting about 10% of new moms compared to 6% diagnosed with depression. Anxiety may also manifest during pregnancy for some. Warning signs of a possible anxiety disorder include racing thoughts, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping and eating (beyond the normal newborn disruptions), and worry that starts to intrude into daily life. You might be unable to sleep because you feel the need to constantly check on your baby, or feel crippled with fear at the idea of leaving the house or driving in a car.

If you are concerned you might be suffering from anxiety, bring it up to your primary care doctor, your OB, even your child’s pediatrician. Although some anxiety is normal for everyone, a true anxiety disorder needs to be treated and you don’t need to suffer! Sometimes talking to a professional may be all you need. Because postpartum anxiety is not discussed as frequently, you may need to be the one who brings it to your doctor’s attention.

If needed, a therapist could also work with you on relaxation techniques or even prescribe medications if necessary, even if you are nursing. Even though the responsibility of caring for such a new, needy life can seem overwhelming, taking care of your own mental health is crucial to being a fully present parent!

Find some more info on symptoms of postpartum anxiety and more resources at Postpartum International: http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/

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